Onward Review

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Pixar’s newest film, Onward, was released in theaters in March of 2020. Due to the unique circumstances of our world today, Disney+ released this movie on its platform at the beginning of April.

We have been self-quarantined in our house as much as possible for over a month now. The only outside ventures lately have been very limited, with sporadic runs to the pet store or grocery store for essentials. And while I am a bit of a home-body, a trip to the grocery store is not enough to satisfy even my moderate desire to socialize out in the world! Sadly, this is the reality for most of the world right now. We go out only when it is absolutely necessary, and in my opinion, those trips out are extremely stressful and there is a lot of tension surrounding everyone in the world today.

How I miss visiting my friends, going out for a drink, and especially hitting up the movie theater. I’m one of those people who absolutely LOVES going to the movies. For me, the theater still holds magic inside its walls. I get teary-eyes during powerful trailers even! It’s an experience that I adore, but only recently realized how much so.

That brings me to Onward. This was the last movie I saw in theaters before the world as we knew it shut down. Because of this, Onward holds a significantly special place in my heart.

When we arrived at the theater, we noticed one of the crew wiping the door handles off with disinfectant wipes. I remember this gave me extra comfort as I knew the theater was only selling 50% of its tickets per show to limit the amount of people in each theater. It’s funny now, looking back, because we didn’t realize how serious the disease was at the time. We also didn’t know that this would be the last time we would be able to go out for a fun evening for… well, the end date is still a mystery.

When Onward was released on Disney+, I had a lot of surprising emotions. The most prominent was sadness. For our podcast, Sisters of Main Street, myself and fellow host Angela decided to do a review of the movie. That meant I needed to watch the movie again. But I was hesitant, and needed to figure out why.

The movie is, in a word, incredible. It is amazingly creative, funny, heart warming, and adventurous all at once – a true feat for any movie to accomplish. The characters became instant favorites, especially Barley, which I will get into in just a minute. I knew I loved the movie, so why the hesitation?

Every once in a while, a memory is being made right in front of your eyes. You are cognizant of the transition from “moment” to “lifelong memory”. It’s rare, but it happens. And it happened when I saw this movie in theater. An occurrence that strong leaves an emotional impression on the soul, and this movie is one of those occurrences for me. So, writing a review with that much feeling behind it is truly difficult. But I felt it necessary to preface this review with the meaningful background that this movie brings. Thanks for listening 🙂

Now, let’s get into the actual movie!

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Onward takes place in a city called New Mushroomtown. What seems like centuries ago, the world in which Onward takes place was filled with magic. The creatures living in this world were also more in touch with their magical tendencies, for example the Centaur that was powerful and could run for miles and miles, or the pixies that would fly around the landscape to travel. However, not everyone had the capability to use magic, as it was a hard element to control. Since necessity is the mother of all invention, those without this skill invented new ways to complete tasks. And, true to the nature of every living thing, we follow the path with least resistance. So as these inventions and tools became more popular, and made chores and every day activities easier, the need for magic lessened until finally, magic became a long lost memory.

And it is at this point where we meet the Lightfoot’s. The starring family is composed of widowed mom, Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and her two sons. They are Barley (Chris Pratt), aged 19, and Ian (Tom Holland), who is turning 16 years old on the day we meet the family. We learn that their father passed away when Ian was a baby, and the only way he can remember his father is vicariously through his big brother, Barley.

Ian is a nervous, shy boy that appears to feel comfortable with organization and lots of structure. He uses lists to keep himself on track, dresses very neatly, and is soft spoken and reserved around his family. He has both feet on the ground and worries over things that are outside of his comfort zone. For example, he is stressed over driving and even the process of practicing puts him on edge.

Barley is the exact opposite of his little brother. He is loud, VERY loud, and extremely animated – even for an animated character! He absolutely loves the lore of magic, and is unabashedly vocal about his thirst for adventure. Barley is one of my ultimate favorite characters in any movie, ever. I mean, he’s such a geek, like me! He’s also the oldest, like me, and I can relate entirely to the love and dedication he feels for his younger brother. But more on that in a minute.

Another “character” that needs to be mentioned is the lore. The lore of magic in this film mimics, or sometimes full-on takes from, magic-based games and lore from our world. There are nods to Magic the Gathering as well as Dungeons and Dragons throughout the film, as well as many Lord of the Rings references as well.

We also meet Laurel’s boyfriend, centaur and police-officer Colt Bronco. It doesn’t appear that Barley and Colt are too fond of one another, and Ian is just a neutral member of that weir triangle. Colt seems unimpressed by Barley’s antics and, well, nonexistent direction. Laurel expresses her own frustrations with Barley’s “gap year”, so it’s understood that she must complain about it to Colt. But Barley is also unimpressed with Colt’s banter, and I’m assuming this stems from the fact that Barley remembers his father clearly. So we pick up on the family dynamics pretty early on in the movie.

Pixar's 'Onward' on Disney Plus: The perfect family film to stream ...

Laurel surprises Ian with a birthday gift from… his father?! He had put it aside until Ian’s 16th birthday. The gift is a wizard’s staff, which comes with a spell! This spell will bring back their father for 24-hours.

Barley is the expert on magic and spells, and takes a crack at it. We realize that Barley unfortunately does not have the gift. But Ian does. Unfortunately, something goes wrong. In the middle of the spell, the phoenix stone used to charge the staff cracks, rendering it useless, and only the bottom half of their father materializes.

Yup. Only the bottom half!

This thrusts the brothers into their own “quest” to find a new phoenix stone, complete the spell, and bring the rest of their father back to spend whatever time they can with him!

The quest is adventurous and laden with fun challenges. They meet other at-one-point-in-time mythical creatures, and even inspire some pixies to regain their power of flight. This is just one instance where the brother inspire some old magical ties back to some people; but I won’t give it all away!

Ian’s focused on bringing his father back and spending some quality time with the man he never got to knew. He creates a list of activities that he would like to complete with his father. However, as time runs out, he is forced to cross some of those items off of the list. During this quest, there is a struggle between Ian and Barley. Ian wants to use practical knowledge to complete the tasks set before them. But Barley is pulling from his knowledge of the world of magic and lore. Ian becomes so focused on getting his father back, at times he can be very harsh to his big brother. Barley comes alive when he realizes they have their own personal quest to complete, and wants to show his little brother that he can be helpful in this situation.

Chris Pratt voices Barley and honestly, I don’t believe any one else could have done better. I’ll be honest. I was a little nervous because Pratt is such a well-known celebrity, I thought I would only hear his voice, and not be able to separate it from Barley. But that is not the case. Barely is so awesome and unique, and Pratt’s talents of being loud, goofy, and wild really lend to this character. Tom Holland, who voices Ian, did a great job as well, the casting really is fantastic, but the stand out for me is Pratt.

Throughout this quest, you get to see a side of the brothers that you rarely see in characters anywhere. You see their insecurities and fears, and I think it is really cool how this movie explores the uncertainty of this age group for boys. I feel this is an overlooked area that many movies do not focus on. It’s extremely real and touching, even down right vulnerable, and those emotions can be related to by pretty much everyone. But showing it through these boys was revolutionary.

In Disney and Pixar movies, of which I feel I can speak confidently, the range of emotions has always been much more vast in the female characters. I can recall some male characters that might stand out a tad above the rest, Hercules and Aladdin come to mind. But even then they have more successes and raw feelings rather than intricate, complicated feelings. Hercules shows a slight insecurity in the town, but he overcomes that greatly. Aladdin eludes to being embarrassed by his humble background, but honestly he never really portrays this, except for the fact that he needs to be a prince – but that is more for Jasmine and not because he feels anything in particular.

The bond between the brothers, partnered by the incredibly in depth character development of them both, is what makes this movie a true treasure. When Frozen was released, we cheered for the “true love” that saved Elsa and Anna because it did not come from a prince for once! It was a true revelation. Onward delivers the same revelation and cause for celebration with these brothers.

Pixar's 'Onward' goes on sale digitally today, coming to Disney+ ...

Without giving away too much about the actual plot of the film, I will say this. By the time you reach the end of the film, you will have witnessed a transformation in Ian that is… for lack of a better term… magical. You will be cheering for the brothers, and if you’re like me, crying like a baby! But in a good way, promise! You will relate to these elves, and some points will ring true to struggles we all face. The amazing way this movie brings mythical characters in to the modern lore is captivating, and brings a sense of familiarity to the movie that makes it easy to feel connected to the characters. It’s very special.

This movie is packed with excellent nods to magic and lore, exceptional characters – even the supporting characters are excellent – and a nostalgic feel as we meet up with familiar characters inside their own world. I really can’t say enough good things about it. But the most important part, personally, is the wonderful memories this movie already brings me.

I don’t like to push movies on people, because everyone has their own taste. But I feel this one could get overlook easily, and so I’m here to say, check this movie out! You will not regret it!


… Better late than never …


I just HAVE to do a review on this movie, because, it is literally one of my favorite movies of all time and since I already spend so much time and energy talking to people about it (whether they like it or not!), I figure it’s time to get all of my thoughts out here.

Moana is a story about a strong-willed girl who follows her heart to fulfill her destiny that was bestowed on her as a little girl. This movie is incredibly uplifting and surprisingly emotional. The connections developed between all of the characters are real and they almost feel like family. The cinematography is magnificent, and I was amazed at how realistic they sand, rocks, and water appeared. They just keep getting better!

There are so many parts to this movie that I simply adore. What I would like to focus on is the uniqueness that Moana explores by utilizing her grandmother’s spirit as a large part of the progression of the movie. The patriarchal grandmother, Tala, is the self-proclaimed “crazy-lady” of the village of Montunui. Her understanding of the world stretches beyond the comprehension (because of hesitation, perhaps?) of the rest of the village, including her son and Moana’s father, Chief Tui.

Tala is the oratory guru and spreads the tale of the creation of the earth. She tells about Te Fiti, a Goddess with the power to create life, and how her heart was stolen by Maui, a shape-shifting demigod. This act began the destruction of the earth, slowly sucking the life out of the islands until the earth would inevitably be swallowed up. Tala’s connection to this story of the Goddess strengthens her spirituality, and we begin to see that she is a strong believer in this tale. Tala also believes in reincarnation, as she tells Moana that she hopes to return as a stingray, which matches her tattoo.

While the rest of the village ignores her stories, Moana is enchanted by them. She holds her grandmother in the highest regard, especially since Tala allows Moana to dream and silently encourages her to feed the wild side she struggles to keep at bay. Moana is not allowed to follow her heart, however. Her father does not want her to travel beyond the reef, yet, Moana is enticed to travel the ocean. This struggle grows as she does, and soon her grandmother feels it is time to reveal to Moana that their people used to be voyagers. Tala tells her this because she knows a secret about Moana. The secret being that the ocean chose Moana to deliver the Heart of Te Fiti and save the earth from its inevitable destruction.

The most heart-wrenching part of Tala’s story can be summed up during the reprise of Moana’s song, “How Far I’ll Go.” Tala knows Moana is weary of the ocean after her one attempt failed miserably. However, Tala also knows that Moana needs to leave the island, find Maui, and save the world! The moment Tala reveals to Moana that their ancestors were voyagers, you can see her begin to get weak and tired. There is a theory that Tala’s purpose was to guide Moana to the truth of her destiny, and once that action began to roll, Tala’s life began to dissipate. Extremely quickly, Tala’s life is shortening and Moana is struggling to understand why. You may have noticed that as Tala is lying down, she is beneath a wall scroll which has the form of Maui drawn on it. Underneath him is the image of a stingray, aka, Tala.

Tala insists that Moana leaves immediately. As Moana is rowing away towards the open water and singing the reprise, she looks back at the hut where Tala was laying. Suddenly, the lights go out, and a breeze rushes down the landscape towards the ocean. Once it reaches, you see an illuminated stingray, which heads for Moana’s boat and guides her through the reef safely. It is absolutely beautiful and crushing at the same time. I cry every time!

The strong connection this movie makes to ancestors, family, and discovering where you fit in to the whole puzzle, gives this movie the  distinct feature of depth that makes the movie better each time you watch it. The humor and beautiful songs help as well!



I love that Moana is a movie about a young woman on a mission. The absence of a romantic arch is something I hear a lot of other people comment on. Some love the fact that the movie had a strong plot while avoiding the sometimes predictable plot line, while others felt it lacked something without it. For my Miyazaki fans, we are used to strong female leads and I appreciate the fact that a romantic arch is actually less common, therefore, I did not feel that anything was missing at all.

I’m not saying only women will enjoy this movie, however. It really is a wonderful film that has a great story, awesome characters, fun songs, and a refreshing take on story telling. Maui, voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, is hysterical and downright perfect for the role! The sidekick chicken, Hei Hei, voiced by the impressive Alan Tudyk, is another funny-without-being-annoying character that has his own destiny to fulfill, and he does it well!






Moana feels like an ancient tale while at the same time is a breath of fresh air to the Disney collection! It’s been an instant favorite and I just can’t wait to see what else Disney has in store!




Yes, yes yes… It’s about time!


How can I express my overwhelming elation with this brilliant film! Zootopia is an instant classic which cleverly utilizes anthropomorphic characters with both stereotypical traits true to how we would expect them to be if they were human-like, and also typical traits of our protagonists, antagonists, sidekicks, etc…

I won’t be mentioning any spoilers as I assume most people have seen the movie already since this review is “past due” IMHO, and you don’t need to be re-told what happens. However, I wanted to focus a bit on the undertones of the film. Ok cool, thanks!


This film caught some heat from those who believed there were strong racial undertones. This, I’m assuming, is in regards to the “Predator vs. Prey” theme threaded throughout the film, which felt very familiar as our social issues between race vs. race, or perhaps religion vs. religion. While the topic is certainly heavy for a kids movie starring a bunny cop, I definitely felt that fourth wall disappear on a couple of occasions while watching the film.

Whether it was the intention of the writers on not, I actually approve of this “hidden” plot line. Taking infamous enemies such as a fox and a bunny and using that connection as an analogy for prejudice was not only a perfect call, but overdue in my opinion. The reason it worked so well is because of the characters themselves. Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) and Nick Wilde (voicef by Jason Bateman) had some amazing chemistry. And while this isn’t a love story, the evolution of their friendship was extremely believable.

Judy Hopps comes from a small town, where the community appears set in their ways. Her dreams of being a cop strikes a cord with her town, including her parents who believe in having “realistic” dreams. It’s a great scene when the two parents are trying to explain that she should actually not try, and stick with what was normal, AKA acceptable or expected of her. Hopps’ resilience is catching as she works hard to prove herself, and her hard works pays off! In the end, she defeats all odds, silences the naysayers, and becomes the first ever “bunny cop”. She is assigned to work in the heart of Zootopia, a mega-city full of diverse landscapes and bustling with animals from all walks of life.

Of course, Hopps is not the most popular rookie on the team, and while she starts off full of fanciful dreams of saving the world, she is quickly pulled down from that dream as she realizes that her assignments are rather menial.

nick-and-judyHer vigor leads her to volunteer to find a missing otter, against her Captain’s orders. She basically bets her career that she will find him. It’s an impulsive mood, especially considering that the file on Mr. Otterton is practically non-existent, and, Hopps has little to no resources. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Hopps has no choice but to swindle herself a sly fox that she had previously met. Enter Nick Wilde!

The two could not be more different, but as they move through this crazy search together, they realize that they have both suffered lifelong judgments based solely on their appearance.

Wilde decided as a child that if people expected him to be a certain way (a sly fox), then that was all he would be. Interestingly enough, Wilde does possess a strong trait of being unusually clever. Hopps points out how his cleverness could be a useful tool and he would make a great cop. It’s a great moment, because Wilde accepts that there is more to him than he ever thought. Also, he shouldn’t be ashamed to be “clever”, because it was something they needed to solve the case!

There is a lot of focus on working hard for what you want, believing in yourself, and, not judging a book by its cover. The lessons in this movie are amazingly taught. But beyond the lessons we get from this movie, it’s also just a hands-down wonderfully funny and visually beautiful film, filled with excellent Easter eggs as well!

I can’t say enough good things about Zootopia! The plot moves along and doesn’t drag out. You get super involved with the characters, too. I especially love watching the little hamsters with their little suits on OMG!!!! SO cute!!! But I digress.


This film has heart, and the moment the credits began to roll, I honestly debated with buying another ticket and watching it a second time. Not to mention, I did see the movie for the first time while at Disney Springs, so hello major Disney-ness!

You’re just going to love it, I promise! Zootopia is also available on Netflix, so really there is no excuse to not check out the movie.

And if you’ve already seen the movie, please tell me what you thought of it!



DIVA’S REVIEW: The Good Dinosaur

Oh, I hope they like me after this one…


If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t read this review. I literally go over the whole movie. Spoilers galore!

The best way for me to document my feelings for this movie might be to start off with the positives. One thing that Pixar’s newest film has over its predecessors has to be the animation. That’s to be expected, some may say, since the normal evolution of anything is for it to get better with practice. But truthfully, the landscapes were so detailed and rich with color that at time I forgot that this was not a movie filmed in the woods somewhere. Absolutely stunning.

I didn’t know anything about this movie, but, I did surmise that this story line would confirm what I long hoped, and many speculated, was the unspoken nature of Pixar films: They stories are created in a parallel universe. Yes. A storytellers playground.

How? The movie opens in outer space, and we follow the path of an asteroid as it races down towards Earth. With an inherent understanding of how this action historically plays out, you would expect that the asteroid would crash onto the Earth’s surface, right next to a pack of grazing Stegosauruses, perhaps, and BOOM – that’s the end of the dinosaurs as we know it.

Such is not the case in The Good Dinosaur. This asteroid swoops on by, without causing so much as a breeze in the night sky, and the dinosaurs are allowed to evolve into…

Intelligent, human-like creatures that operate on a sophisticated and highly-advanced level to their doppelganger brethren in our universe.

Yes. The cause of this asteroid missing the planet sets the wheels in motion for the interesting evolution in animals and machines alike in this parallel universe. This is my theory, anyways. And with this theory in my head as I entered the movie theater, I was half-expecting John Lasseter to appear, sitting in front of me all stealth-like, and then at the perfect moment, announce to everyone in the theater that I did it. I put that piece together. Well, when that didn’t happen, what I was left with was the film itself.

The film, in all its beautiful, stressful, simplistic, boring glory.


The actual story line felt familiar. That’s because it has been done before. A few times. And this movie didn’t try to make the circumstances leading up to the start of the great journey feel any newer than what we have experienced before. From the moment you’re introduced to Arlo, the young Apatosaurus, and his family, which consists of a brother, a sister, and two parents, you get the feeling that this big happy family will never make it intact. It’s apparent right off the bat that Arlo’s father will die. And soon. Why?

Because we are introduced to a young dino who is afraid of leaving his farm, of getting out into the world and exploring. We have seen enough movies to know that something big, something dramatic, is going to have to happen to push Arlo out of his comfort zone. And what’s the perfect formula for injecting sadness and an urgency that the main character has to grow? Well, losing a parent. Not only was it painfully obvious that Arlo’s father, Poppa Henry, would die, but the way that he died was straight-up Mufasa!

Now, Arlo is on his own in a big, scary world. And it’s stressful. It’s harsh. The dinosaur literally gets knocked down so many times, it starts to feel oppressive.

As soon as his journey begins, Arlo runs in to a human-kid, Spot (who was the “cause” of Henry’s death), who acts more like a dog or a wolf. Arlo wants to find his way home, and Spot follows him. I was entertained by their relationship in the beginning. The dinosaur was the leader, the intelligble one of the group. The boy was more like an animal. They were a funny pair, and I truly liked how that relationship began. They went through the journey together, but because of all the sadness in this movie, having two lost, orphaned travelers felt too heavy. Spot was adorable. Arlo was not street-smart and needed this wild child. This relationship might be the only reason I stayed through the end of the movie.


They run into some mean pterodactyls; crazy eyes and a cuddly-creature-death-for-shock-value aside, these characters were actually more annoying than intimidating. Then they find some T-rex herders and help them out for a quick minute. They have a campfire-night sky-storytelling  moment where the Father T-Rex is supposed to drop some gold nuggets of wisdom down for the travelers to collect, although this whole scene bored me and didn’t connect with anything. Anything at all. There wasn’t even a feeling of relief when Arlo assisted the T-Rex family successfully. After they left the T-Rex family, they were optimistic about getting to Arlo’s farm. I didn’t care. The main character was tormented that rejoining him after the “break” felt more like a chore than something to look forward to. I wish there had been more moments of being carefree, or laughing, or SOMETHING!

They almost got home, but those damned pterodactyls find them again. Predictable, yes. We knew at this point in the film that every thing was going to be a fight. This time, they take Spot and leave Arlo behind. Now, injured and alone, Arlo sees the ghost of his father. I was surprised that this scene didn’t have any affect on me. I cry at nearly every thing. But since I knew that this scene was coming, (i.e.; Mufasa visiting with Simba…) I felt overly prepared to see Poppa once more.

henry dinosaur


Of course, after the ghostly visit, Arlo digs up some strength, turns his direction away from home and heads to save his friend. He scares them away with an intimidating roar *ehm* and within a matter of seconds, really, the climax of the film is over.

Then Arlo and Spot head home. A human family runs into them and without speaking, offer to take Spot with them and raise him. Arlo has a moment of anger, where he wants Spot to stay with him. This scene did make me sad, but I thought to myself; “What would really be awesome – since there has really been no happiness in this film – is if Arlo takes the humans back to the farm and teaches them how to produce food for themselves.” Yes. A happy ending. Arlo certainly deserved it.

But he didn’t get it. Spot went with the humans… wherever they go, and Arlo went home. His Mom yelled his name out and the movie was over. The end.

Aside from using a dinosaur as the main character, there was nothing memorable about the film. The characters, the journey, the music… nothing! If you want a beautiful slideshow to play in the background as you’re entertaining guests or trying to meditate… put this film on mute and let it go. At least the imagery was worthwhile. But honestly, when lacking everything else, what does that matter?

Suffice to say, I have never been more disappointed in a Pixar movie. I’m really bummed out. Perhaps my expectations were too grand this time, but I have to say, in my opinion, The Good Dinosaur was nothing more than a recycled story painted in pretty colors, perhaps hoping for a distraction from the lack of actual story telling. Will I watch it again. Yes. Why? To see if I am missing something. Maybe I can appreciate the story more now that I understand the direction. And I would be willing to give it a second chance simply because it is a Pixar movie, and I admire/adore/love their films. But I had to be honest, and this is honestly how my initial viewing of the movie went.


Thoughts? Comments? Cookies?

Leave ’em here! 🙂


Feelings. Emotions. Emotions having feelings. Feeling emotional………


You’ll experience an overwhelming amount of feelings and get emotional during Pixar’s newest film, Inside Out. This movie gets incredibly creative as it invents a new world that exists inside all of us. First, let’s start with the cast.

I can’t think of any one better to play the role of Anger than Lewis Black. He was a riot, and absolutely perfect. Bill Hader joined the group as Fear, and was fine, nothing special if you ask me. Mindy Kaling voiced Disgust, and while she definitely had the least recognizable voice in the group (a positive thing, I might add), I was hoping she would have more lines, since her character was entertaining.

joy inside outAmy Poehler voiced the leader of the group, Joy, and in doing so became an animated version of my hero, Leslie Knope (Parks & Recreations). While I love the character of Knope, it was a little hard to visualize Joy as a different and unique character, since she possesses similar traits to the Deputy Director. It was a hurdle I tried to overcome, and while I enjoyed Joy’s perseverance to correct the situation she found herself in, the whole time I kept envisioning my favorite TV show, and that distracted me from getting to appreciate Joy.

sadness inside outBut the biggest surprise, I’m happy to report, was Phyllis Smith as Sadness. While she may not have made extraordinary strides to animate her voice as well as I feel Kaling accomplished, Smith enhanced the development of Sadness with an Eeyore-esque tone of despair that was truly distinctive to her character. Throughout the movie, you feel a range of emotions in connection to Sadness, making her the most defined character of the group. She goes from being annoyingly depressing to plain annoying (by way of the plots progression), to sympathetic, and finally you end with cheering her on as the surprise under-dog. Sadness is a great character, truly diverse and complex.

The set-up is brilliant. I especially love how creative the writers got with creating this world, AKA your brain. It’s like a factory that manufacture’s every memory you process, and there is great detail on what happens with long-term memories, imagination, core memories, and what creates a human’s personality. Of course, in this “factory” like workplace, there’s some mischief between the other workers “on the floor”, which explain certain phenomena such as why songs get stuck in your head, for instance. 🙂

The five emotions work at “Headquarters”, and have the ability to see the world through human Riley’s eyes. It is their job to essentially keep Riley happy, by influencing her with the right emotions at the right time. They also have access to memories that can help set the mood, if you will, and keep Riley progressively moving in a positive direction.

 Inside Out Pixar Post 1

The conflict of this movie occurs as Sadness becomes restless and begins getting into Riley’s core memories. These are the most important memories, because they define Riley’s personality traits. The emotions have the power to change the memories to reflect what they stand for. For example, the core memories are all created by Joy, but as Sadness touches them, we see the memory start to change and get blanketed into sadness. As Joy tries to save the core memories, she finds herself, along with Sadness, thrust out of HQ and onto the floor. This starts the determination of Joy to get back to HQ, because leaving the other three emotions to advise Riley’s mood is unbalanced, and quite honestly a problem. Imagine if you only had Anger, Fear, and Disgust running your life. That would be a pretty bleak outlook, don’t you think?

Of course, this disaster occurs in coordination with a big change in Riley’s life. That being the family moving from their beloved and spacious Montana to a small, decrepit row house in California.

riley sass inside outBefore you say anything, apparently it IS possible to be sad in the state where Disney began… I dunno, preteens are unpredictable, I suppose,and at this time Riley is at the ripe old age of eleven, cresting on the stubborn teen years. One might say: The Perfect Storm.

Joy and Sadness embark on the journey back to HQ, and are met with some obstacles, of course, but mostly it’s bad timing. Honestly, the journey back was not all that exciting for me. I was more intrigued by learning the process of memories and what makes a personality than caring if they made it back – because, ultimately, you knew they would.

The question that I believe was supposed to keep the “journey” interesting, was that Joy and Sadness were racing against the clock, because Riley’s personality was being jeopardized and we weren’t sure how much of Riley would be left by the time Joy got back to HQ to save the day.

Even still, the threat that Riley could turn into an angry, paranoid, judgmental creep if Joy and Sadness failed, was not that imminent. That’s the one area I believe the movie failed.

But, Pixar did succeed in making this Diva bawl her eyes out during one of the – shall I be so bold? – saddest moments in Pixar Film history! I won’t give it all away, but for those of you who have seen the movie, you know EXACTLY what I am talking about. I didn’t see it coming, and I’m actually going through the grieving phases as we speak. Today, I’m stuck on denial.

The movie envelopes a great amount of “growth”, and threads this theme throughout and in many different ways. Most obvious would be watching Riley grow from an infant into a young girl. She leads a relatively happy life, anjoy sadness inside outd even when the family has to move, Joy makes sure that Riley adjusts as easily as she can.

We also experience growth during the tribulation of Joy and Sadness. Joy not only learns tolerance for her somber sidekick, but begins to realize that each emotion plays an intricate role in creating Riley’s memories. Knowing joyfulness can only be felt when one has experienced sadness. Without each other, Riley would not be able to enjoy the pleasures of what interests her.

It becomes apparent to Joy that a memory not only can be changed, but should be. While Riley’s core memories, which include playing hockey and ice-skating with her parents, were once a single-emotion (joy), now that life has been changing for Riley, her looking back on those memories of her childhood home would inevitably stir up some sadness as well. A mixture of sadness and joy creates a bittersweet memory, a completely new emotion. We start to see that the five emotions can combine together to create a multitude of feelings, which is necessary for a young-adult to have.

Being a baby and a young child, they can’t experience or understand complex emotions because they’re young and learning about life. But as we grow, like Riley, it becomes apparent that entering into adulthood with basic emotions is impossible, and at the same time, unrealistic. The movie shows the audience that we have to be capable of having a vast amount of emotions, because that shows that we are growing into more complex human beings. The way this is done is beautiful and perhaps more intricate than you would expect from a “kids movie’.


All in all, Inside Out has a different feeling from the normal “story-telling” type that we’re used to with Pixar. It feels deeper and more philosophical on some level, making it tough to declare that I will watch it over and over again, as I do with other classics such as Toy Story and Monster’s Inc. I believe that this movie has a unique and more mature outlook, so you have to be in a certain mood to sit back and enjoy it. As I stated in the beginning – you WILL feel, you WILL react emotionally, and most likely, you WILL cry. You may also need a moment to reflect, I did. I couldn’t leave the theater right away, I needed some time to digest all of the feelings that were stirred up inside due to this film. For this reason alone, I would claim that Inside Out is a success, because a movie that can get you to consider your own life is a pretty powerful thing.

My final word of advice: Go see it today, and bring tissues.



DIVA’S REVIEW: Cinderella (2015)

The best way to deliver this review would be to sing all the words to you! And while I didn’t mean to rhyme, it doesn’t hurt to keep the opening line.

OK – I’ll stop. But seriously, the movie was undeniably the most magical, classic, wonderful movie I have seen in an extremely long time, and that always makes me want to sing! Where to begin…


The Cinderella movie is incomparable to its animated counterpart, but that doesn’t mean one is better than the other. I’m a strong supporter of the classic Cinderella, and believe she is the ultimate Disney princess. Anyone who would argue is not to be trusted. (he he) 🙂

The story line does stick with the main thread of the original; beautiful young maiden, nasty step-mother and sisters, the Prince’s ball, pumpkin at midnight, etc… But the plot goes deeper into the background story of Prince Charming – or “Kit”, as he is called by his father – making him a much more structured and sympathetic character. You really feel for him while he is on the search for his love. And it doesn’t hurt that the actor portraying the infamous Prince is none other than Richard Madden (shout out to my GOT Robb Stark fangirls out there!).


Mmm hm.

Besides better developing Prince Charming, we are treated through a bittersweet journey with Ella and her mother. She is such an important influence on sweet Ella. Her life lessons are taken to heart by her only child, and you feel a true loss when she passes on. It was such a wonderful experience to watch their interaction on screen. She leaves behind some words of wisdom that we are able to see Ella utilize throughout her life without her mother: “Have courage and be kind”


These are good words to live by… but I believe Ella did not fully understand their meaning until the ending of the movie. She takes the “be kind” message to literally, and in turn allows her new family to treat her horribly, while she allows it to happen. I was concerned that her absent “backbone” would generate by way of the Prince; thus keeping with the old-fashioned way of delivering princess movies where the princess is undefinable until she gets married to her prince. I’m happy to say, though, that this was not the case.

While she would remind herself to “have courage and be kind”, we see Ella learn that above all else, you need to be kind to yourself. This means having the courage to stand up for yourself against those who are not kind. I love that her mother’s message could adhere to multiple situations, and regardless of how interpreted, the user (Ella) would always be morally in the right. Ella does finally speak up for herself, and I cheered for her when it happened.

The movie took on a different life of its own visually. I was stunned by how beautiful the imagery was in this film. It felt like I was in the middle of this fairy-tale world, and I truly did not want it to end. It was absolutely beautiful in every way. The dress scene alone was astonishing! Knowing that in the original film, it was Walt Disney’s absolute favorite bit of animation, I felt that they paid this tribute to him by creating one of the most magnificent scenes that needs to be witnessed.


The extra character background and imagery are two parts of this film that undoubtedly set this film apart from the others. But I do have to get real right now, and there was one area that I was actually disappointed in, and that was – surprisingly – the casting.

tumblr_nfaqxcDGUF1rx6lo2o2_r1_500Earlier in my blog, I had written about my skepticism for Helena Bonham Carter playing the Fairy Godmother. While I always try to keep an open mind from judgement on casting (especially after I was completely against Heath Ledger, and actor I truly adored, playing the Joker – until I saw him! #eatCrow), my original disdain for this casting was unfortunately founded, for me anyways.

I think they wanted to create a fairy who was a bit absent minded, and maybe because of the short amount of screen time she had, this translated on-screen as more of an annoyance then a playful flaw.

Plus, I wasn’t buying the look of the fairy godmother. This may be because I’m used to the animated fairies from movies like the original Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, meaning the older, plump little grandma looking fairies. Carter didn’t cut it for me.

Cate Blanchett, an actor I admire greatly, was just “all right” with me. The acting with Ella and her parents, along with Prince Charming and the King, were fabulous. In a way, I wish that the evil stepmother was a bit more evil, but the way the story goes, you sort of sympathize with her at the end – just for a second, a mere second! Because of that, I was uncertain about how I feel in regards to her character, but know that she didn’t steal the show as she usually does.

But the biggest disappointment was the stepsisters. Simply put: they weren’t funny.

Sorry Sophie McShera - I think you're adorable, but this was not my favorite of you at all. :(

Sorry Sophie McShera – I think you’re adorable, but this was not my favorite of you at all. 😦

While they are supposed to be disliked because they are rude and mean to the protagonist, the love’em/hate’em traits never came through. Their gaudy attire and clumsy motions were meant to add to their image of distasteful girls, but instead, due to either poor acting or sub-par writing, these additional features only aided in presenting the stepsisters as dumb and obnoxious, and not in a  funny way. I actually hated it when they were on screen, because they took away from the wonderful world that this film had allowed me to enter. They didn’t make me laugh or even anger me, they just got on my nerves.

Thankfully, the good far outweighs the bad, and the best is hands down, no doubt about it, Lily James – our Cinderella! She is the absolutely steals the show, and is just perfect as Ella. I don’t think any one else could have portrayed the empathetic character any more gracefully then she did. And I don’t think I can commend her enough on this performance, she was born to play this role. *Applause*


My recommendation: Go see the movie and allow yourself to be swept away into this beautiful world that has been created for you. This is an immeasurable delight that just has to be experienced by anyone who has ever wished upon a star!